Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#717 Xavier vs.
#718 Wake Forest
Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 4:00pm EST
Written by Blake V.

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#717 Xavier University
#718 Wake Forest University
9-1
5-5
17-17-1
13-18
15-20
14-17
72
68
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75

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No. 23 Xavier is coming off a win in its biggest rivalry game of the season—a 73-66 victory against Cincinnati in the crosstown rivalry. Now, the Musketeers travel to Winston-Salem for a road game against Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon. The Demon Deacons have lost their last three games and are 5-5 on the season.

Xavier coming off rivalry win

Xavier had only lost one game all season heading into last weekend’s big-time meeting with Cincinnati. The Musketeers had dropped a five-point game to Florida in the championship game of the Charleston Classic near the end of November. Now, they have reeled off three wins in a row, with the latest of those bearing the most weight. Xavier re-claimed bragging rights in the series, beating the Bearcats for their ninth win in the last 13 games of the rivalry. Xavier led by 16 points in the second half and never led by fewer than seven the rest of the way.

The Musketeers are led by junior guard Naji Marshall, who scored 31 points in last weekend’s emotional win. Marshall is averaging 17.0 points per game 6.0 rebounds per game. He is also dishing out a team-high 3.7 assists per contest. However, he has been inconsistent from the 3-point line, only making 14 of 54 attempts. Junior guard Paul Scruggs is scoring 14.2 points per game. Senior forward Tyrique Jones leads the team with 9.4 rebounds per game and is also scoring 13.8 points per contest. The best outside shooter on the team is senior guard Bryce Moore, who is 12 of 33 from beyond the arc.

Wake Forest on three-game losing streak

Wake Forest is stumbling into Saturday’s contest. The Demon Deacons opened the year by winning five of their first seven games, with the two losses coming in road games against Boston College and Charlotte. They picked up wins against Columbia, UNC Asheville, Davidson, Charleston and Long Beach State. However, they have now lost their last three games to drop to 5-5 on the year. Two of those games were road contests—losses at then-No. 14 Arizona and Penn State. The most recent outing was a 91-82 home loss to North Carolina State last weekend. The Wolfpack shot 52 percent from the floor in the first ACC game of the season.

The Demon Deacons are led by senior guard Brandon Childress, who is scoring 16.6 points per game and leading the way with a team-high 4.8 assists per game. He has also made the most 3-points on the team, converting on 17 of 52 attempts from downtown. Junior center Olivier Sarr is leading Wake Forest with 9.5 rebounds per game. The France native is nearly averaging a double-double, scoring 13.1 points per game. Junior guard Chaundee Brown is the other scorer in double figures, adding 11.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest. Senior guard Andrien White is the most efficient shooter, making 14 of 34 attempts from distance.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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Xavier is finally starting to get its act together as far as covering the spread is concerned. The Musketeers are only 3-6-1 ATS this season, but they have covered in two of their last three contests. The one game they failed to cover in was a narrow miss, winning by 13 as 17-point favorites against Wisconsin-Green Bay. Wake Forest has just been abysmal in its last two games and it’s difficult to see things changing in this game. The Demon Deacons are severely mis-matched and Xavier has had plenty of time to recover from its emotional win against Cincinnati. I like the Musketeers to take care of business on the road in this game.

Prediction: Xavier -3.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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I look for this game to go over the total. Xavier has seen five of its last six games this season go over the number. Neither of these teams is going to try to slow the ball down, as Wake Forest comes in at No. 103 in KenPom’s adjusted tempo ratings and Xavier is No. 152, which puts both teams in the top half of the country as far as pushing the pace. The Musketeers do have a good defense, but their offense is also very solid, ranking No. 53 overall. Wake Forest is better on the offensive end of the floor than the defensive end, so the Demon Deacons will have to score points to keep pace in this game. I like this one to go over the number.

Prediction: Over 142
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Written By Blake V.

Blake is a lifelong sports fan and hoops junkie. Prior to joining our team at Winners & Whiners and StatSalt, Blake worked for several newspapers and websites. He enjoys combining his beat writing expertise with the knack for finding the winning edge in a matchup. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.